Many tourists claim that when they first arrived in the city of Kars in Turkey, they were struck by the unusually wide streets for this country, the architecture of which remained from the Russian presence in this city. Kars has no access to the sea, and therefore tourists come here only for the purpose of exploring local attractions.
Today, Kars in Turkey is a real open-air museum that preserves the features of Turkish and Armenian cultures. Unlike other regions of the country, the spirit of the past in its original form has been preserved here.
Kars is a city located in eastern Turkey, 200 km from Erzurum, on the banks of the eponymous river and very close to the border with Armenia. This is the administrative center of the homonymous region, with a total area of 2347 sq. Km. with a population of 80 thousand people.
From the history of the city
Kars appeared on this earth in the 4th century, although written references to it date back to the 9th century. In the years 928-961, Kars was the capital of Armenia. In 1065, it became part of Byzantium, and a little later was conquered by the Seljuks. Kars was part of Georgia for some time, but in the 16th century it passed to Turkey. During the Russo-Turkish War, Kars was under siege for a long time. Russia managed to conquer it, but a year later, according to the Adrianople treaty, the city was returned to Turkey. And after half a century, he became part of the Russian Empire until 1918. It was this year that he was returned to Turkey under the Brest Treaty.
During the Russian presence in the city, many buildings were built in the neoclassical style. The status of Kars in Turkey (we posted a photo in this article) was finally fixed on May 30, 1953. The Soviet Union officially refused any territorial claims against it.
Kars in Turkey: attractions. Kars Fortress
From ancient times, Kars was considered a key point to the conquest of Asia Minor. Initially, it was called Kars-kalak, which translates as “city of doors”. His fortress became an impregnable stronghold. It was surrounded by five rows of powerful walls and it consisted of an external and internal fortress. During the construction of the citadel, warehouses for food and ammunition, barracks were located inside the fortress walls, but there were no civilian objects.
However, in the XVII century, many shops, 3 thousand houses and 47 mosques were built inside. Today, for viewing on the territory of the Kars fortress in Turkey, the tomb of Jalal Baba, who died after the invasion of the Mongols in the XII century, barracks, one mosque and ammunition depot, is available.
Surb Khach Church
Called the pearl of Armenian architecture, the temple was built during the heyday of the Waspurakan kingdom. The church was built for the king Gagik Artsruni. Inside it is decorated with frescoes that are not characteristic of classical Armenian temples. The building has only two corner limits on the east side. As a rule, there are four chapels in the Armenian church, which gives the cross-domed structure a rectangular shape.
Aparank is the name by which the monastery in the city of Kars (Turkey) is known today, comes from the Armenian word, which means "palace". The history of the monastery is not exactly known, but documentary evidence has been preserved that in the XIX century it was the episcopal center of the Terkan district. Most of the buildings of the complex that have been preserved to date belong to this historical period.
The territory of the monastery is surrounded by high walls. They were built not as protective, but to give the complex integrity, completeness: they have no towers and high impregnable parapets. There is a gate in the north wall - this is the entrance to the monastery. There was probably another one in the western wall, but it did not survive.
Church of SurbOvanes
The temple has the shape of a cross with four columns that support the dome with a low drum. Such a design was common in the churches of Armenia, built in the middle of the XVII century and due to the powerful influence of post-Byzantine churches.
The interior of the church is made of rough stone, covered with plaster. The floor was paved with well-crafted large stone slabs. There is a small extension on the south side of the church, which is part of the interior of the temple. She has no external input. The purpose of this building is unknown, but such extensions were often used in other Armenian churches of the 19th century.
This settlement in the city of Kars in Turkey is located in the plain of the same name. Mush already existed during the Hittites. Initially, it was considered a fortress village, and in the IX-X centuries it was called a city. Mush was divided into Armenian and Turkish parts, and it consisted of twelve districts. The city had a market with numerous establishments, two hotels, 7 schools, 5 Armenian churches and a stone bathhouse.
This city was famous for the sad events that occurred in the era of the Ottoman Empire. Penetrated nomadic Kurdish tribes began to show violence, as a result of which the bulk of the surviving Armenian population left the city.
To the north of ancient Mush, on the hill stands the village of Chengeli, built on the ruins of the once-holy place for Armenians - the Surb Karapet monastery. With the advent of Christianity, the pagan temple was destroyed, and instead Gregory the Illuminator built the monastery of Surb Karapet. The powerful walls of this building looked more like a fortress. In the Middle Ages, the monastery complex was not only the most revered among the Armenians, but also famous for its huge library, and was a popular center of education.
Today, from this cathedral in the city of Kars in Turkey there are ruins and a pile of carved stones, which the locals used to build houses.
Interesting places Kars
The site contains Kars attractions - photos, descriptions and travel tips. The list is based on popular guides and is presented by type, name and rating. Here you will find answers to questions: what to see in Kars, where to go and where are the popular and interesting places of Kars.
Church of the Holy Apostles
The Church of the Holy Apostles, built in the 10th century, stands at the foot of the Kara fortress. This is the only Armenian church preserved in Kars.
The cathedral was built allegedly in 932-937. It was the Cathedral for King Abbas I of the Bagratid Dynasty, due to the fact that he moved his capital to Kars. However, in 1579, the Turks converted the temple into a mosque and gave the name Kyumbet-Jami. After the conquest of Kars by the Russian army from 1877 to 1919, the building was used as a temple of the Russian Orthodox Church. With the arrival of the Turks in the city, the building has long been used as a warehouse for storing gasoline. In 1970, a museum was opened here, and since 1998, a mosque again.
Outside, turning the church into a mosque consisted of replacing the cross with a crescent moon and installing a loudspeaker at the base of the dome. Everything else - as it was: the openwork crosses carved in the walls, and the figures of the twelve apostles on the dome, but nowhere are Armenian letters typical of the Armenian cathedrals of the Bagratid era visible - they were most likely destroyed by the Turks.
In the photo mode, you can view the sights in Kars only by photos.
The ancient city of Mush
Located in the plain of the same name, Mush, which existed already in the Hittite era, was first referred to as a fortress-village, and in the IX-X centuries. began to be called a city. Mush was divided into Armenian and Turkish parts and consisted of twelve districts. Of the buildings there were two hotels, a market with numerous, chaotically located institutions, a stone bathhouse, 5 Armenian churches and 7 schools functioned.
The streets of the city were narrow and winding. Clay houses closely located to each other did not have courtyards or fences - washing and cooking right on the street were common here. In the Middle Ages, Mush was famous as one of the centers of Armenian writing: it was here that many works were written or rewritten, some of which still exist today (for example, the Gospel, Chashots (excerpts from the Bible for reading during the mass), Tonakan, New Testament) .
This city is famous for the very sad events that occurred in it in the era of the Ottoman Empire (beginning of the 16th century). Penetrated nomadic Kurdish tribes began to inflict national and religious oppression, show brutal violence, as a result of which the majority of the surviving Armenian population left the city.
Msho Sultan Cathedral
30 km north of Mush, on a hill rises the village of Chengeli, erected on the ruins of one of the holiest places for Armenians, the Surb Karapet monastery (Msho Sultan Cathedral). With the advent of Christianity, the pagan temple, previously located on this site, was destroyed, and together with it St. Gregory the Illuminator founded the monastery of Surb Karapet.
The monastery, with its powerful walls, was more like a fortress. In the Middle Ages, the monastery was not only the most revered among the Armenians, but also had an impressive library, and was also considered one of the centers of education.
Today, only minor ruins and a lot of carved stones were left from Surb Karapet, which were used by locals to build their houses.
Hadrian's Stone Bridge
The stone bridge Tash-Korpu (or, as it is also called, Tashkeppru) was built in the XVI century. during the reign of Murat III. The bridge was built from hewn basalt and served as a crossing over the Kars river between the city and the Kars Kalesi citadel. This solid three-arch bridge, according to legend, saw the famous retreat of Xenophon with ten thousand Greeks.
Today, next to the bridge, you can also see a church made of basalt and the ruins of several hammams.
Chapel of St. David
The chapel has a rectangular shape with one nave, which has the shape of a vault. The building was built from reusable stones, so on its walls you can see old sculptural fragments, as well as stones with inscriptions.
The inscription at the entrance to the chapel says that there was a burial place of David, in whose honor the monastery was named.
At a short distance from the chapel are two unique cross-stones. Their uniqueness lies in the size - each of them is more than six meters in height. They are dated 1191 and 1194 years. Next to these khachkars, at least until the 1970s, there was another one, a little smaller. Unfortunately, now it is tumbled down and lies just on the ground. Both inside the chapel and around it are scattered many more fragments of old cross stones.
The walls of the old city
The ancient city of Kars, located on the banks of the river of the same name, flowing in a hollow among the mountains, is deservedly considered one of the most attractive and unusual Turkish cities.
Kars has an exceptional strategic position: firstly, it protects the intermountain passage to Erzurum and central Anatolia, and secondly, it opens access to the Caucasus. Therefore, the number of sieges of the city and its assaults is in the tens.
The main attraction of the city is the famous fortress, built in the X century, as well as many churches of different eras. Many who have been here believe that the residential and administrative quarters of Kars are almost identical to the quarters of Russian and Armenian cities of the late 19th century. Old Kars is so similar to Yerevan that they are often called "twins."
Walking along the cobblestone bridges of the old city, you can see such familiar two- and three-story buildings with characteristic cornices and balconies with wrought-iron grills or gabled roofs. And the city hall somehow reminds a provincial Russian museum. As for the rest of the buildings, despite the obvious traces of the rebuilding according to Islamic traditions, they have retained their special charm.
Church of St. John
Surb Hovhannes Church was built in the shape of a cross with four free-standing columns supporting a dome with a low drum. This type of construction was very common in Armenian churches built in the middle of the 17th century and was due to the strong influence of post-Byzantine Greek churches.
The inside of the church is made of rough stone, which was originally covered with stucco. The floor was paved with large, well-crafted stone slabs. On the south side of the church there is a small extension, it is part of the interior of the church and does not have an external entrance. Its purpose is unknown, but such extensions are often found in other 19th century Armenian churches built ..
Monastery of the Apostles (“Msho Arakelots”)
Arakelots Monastery is located in a very picturesque place, about 10 km southeast of the town of Mush, on the slope of Mount Tirnkatar, which is located between the two peaks of the Tavros mountain range.
Until 1915, the monastery was a place of pilgrimage for Christians from different countries. The complex of Msho Arakelots consisted of a magnificent domed church with a wonderful bell tower and a vestibule. A powerful defensive wall lined with large stones surrounded him. It was possible to enter the monastery through two iron gates. Around were farm buildings. Here was one of the manuscript centers, where in the XIII-XV centuries. manuscripts were copied. In the XIV century, the writer and designer Arakel Taronatsi worked here. The monastery had vast estates and its income. Near the church there is a cemetery with luxurious cross-stones. In 1915, the monastery was looted and devastated.
Anazarbus / Anavarza Citadel
The city of Anavarz was the capital of the Byzantine and Armenian Cilicia. In the 1st century BC, it was visited by the Roman emperor Augustus. The citadel of Anazarbus itself stands on a ridge. Its lower part, which was previously a residential city, is located under the cliffs of a small ridge on a plain covering an area of about one kilometer, and is surrounded by walls with a gate. Now there is a pasture and a source of small part-time jobs for locals.
To get to the upper castle, you need to get to the parking lot located at the caretaker's house. Then, finding a stone staircase that leads through the ruins on a slope to rise to the top of the hill. Here you can find many old stones with fragments of Armenian inscriptions. In the northern part of the ridge is the citadel itself. The ridge offers stunning views of the plains below.
The most popular attractions in Kars with descriptions and photos for every taste. Choose the best places to visit the famous places of Kars on our website.
A brief history of Kars
Founded at the beginning of the 10th century by Armenians who called it Kari, Kars became the capital of the Bagratid dynasty. At this time, the citadel towering above the city was completed and strengthened. A little later in the same century, Armenian rulers moved to Ani, and Kars lost its former significance. In the middle of the XI century, he, like most cities in the region, was captured by the Seljuks, but the devastating raids of the Mongols brought to naught all the plans that the new rulers had on the city.
In 1205, he was captured by the Georgians, who rose after the weakening of the power of Byzantium and the Seljuks. They owned Kars for three centuries, until the formation of the Ottoman Empire. Kars defends the approaches to Erzurum, which is the key to the rest of Anatolia. The Russians tried to capture Kars throughout the 19th century. The sieges of 1828 and 1855 were successful. In 1855, during the Crimean War, the Anglo-Turkish garrison left the fortress five months later, after almost completely starving to death.
However, both times Kars returned to Turkey as a result of the conclusion of a peace treaty. It happened differently in 1878 when, as a result of a bloody eight-month war, Kars nevertheless became part of tsarist Russia and remained Russian-Armenian until 1920. It is this period that explains the unusual plan of the city center, and strange houses in the style of belle epoque. It is not surprising that in Kars there are still many military men who make the city with 90 thousand civilians even more crowded.
Sights of Kars
The Church of the Holy Apostles, which is located on the other side of Kars Chaii on the way to the fortress, was built in 930-937 by the Armenian king Abas I. The twelve arch-supporting domes are decorated with rough reliefs depicting 12 apostles, but in general it is squat, heavy , a simple and highly constructive structure of dark basalt. Her bell tower and main entrance were added later. The church under the Christians, the mosque under the Muslims, for some time it served as a museum, but in 1998 it was consecrated again. Now it is called Kyumbet Jami, and to admire the exquisite carvings of the altar screen, you can get there only shortly before and after the time of prayer.
Before ascending to the feces, take a walk upstream the Kars Chaii tributary to Tash Köpr, or the Stone Bridge, built from the same volcanic rock as the church, and restored in the 1580s by order of Sultan Murad III. Not far from it there are several hammams, the oldest of which were built in the XVIII century: Ilbeioglu, Mazlutaga and Topchuoglu, the latter are going to be restored in the near future.
The first fortress at the confluence of rivers appeared here in the II century BC. The Armenian-Byzantine citadel was then maintained in working condition by the Seljuks and was expanded by the Mongols. At the end of the 16th century, the Ottomans rebuilt it as part of the reconstruction of the entire city, but only so that in the 19th century it was completely destroyed by the Russians. On October 30, 1920, the army of Armenian Dashnaks besieged in the fortress surrendered to the Turkish general Halit Pasha (now there is a street named after him), after which the hope of the Armenians to settle on both banks of the Akhuryan River finally died.
After decades of military restrictions, Kars Kalesi finally became a public park. Locals come here to enjoy the panorama of Kars and bow to the tomb of Jalal Baba, a saint of the XIV century, however, besides the military buildings made of black stone, there is nothing more to see here. At the time of this writing, the only truly interesting attraction of Kars was the Kars Museum, which is a fifteen minute walk in the eastern part of the city.
The ethnographic section of the museum includes such unique exhibits as a ceramic egg (oil churns) and a cradle made of the same material, as well as jewelry, leather goods and a large exhibition of carpets and kilims. At the bottom there is a place for ancient pottery and religious relics from Russia and Armenia - a huge church bell with the inscription "Calling the Glory of God" and a pair of wooden doors that adorned the cathedral until 1920. On the way back, take a look at the Fethiye Mosque, a re-dedicated 19th-century Russian Orthodox Church.
Facts About Kars
From 928 to 961, the capital of the Armenian kingdom of Bagratids, from 963 to 1065, the capital of the Armenian Kars kingdom.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century. there were 850 houses, including 600 Armenian (71%).
Currently, 20% of the city’s population are ethnic Azerbaijanis. Azerbaijanis live mainly in the neighborhoods (makhalla) of Yenimahalla and Istasyon. Here, among the Azerbaijanis, the following groups are distinguished: Molla Musalylar, Karakiliseliler, Kulubegliler and Chobankerelilerler. These names reflect the names of the regions and villages where they come from.
In 1064, the Kars kingdom was annexed to Byzantium, and later conquered by the Seljuks.
During the Russo-Turkish wars of the 19th century, the Kars fortress became one of the main objects of struggle at the Caucasian theater of military operations. In 1807, Russian troops unsuccessfully stormed Kars.